The Ugly Truth Behind the Parkland Story: We Hate Poor People

Connecting some dots in today's newspapers: Apparently the real story in America today is that we despise the poor and consider them to be less than human pieces of shit, while we absolutely worship money and are crack-addicted to personal luxury.

Maybe the day's worst story anywhere in America about treatment of the poor is on the front-page of The Dallas Morning News -- the latest installment in that paper's ongoing better-damn-be-a-Pulitzer coverage of appalling neglect and malfeasance at Parkland, the city's once proud public hospital.

Today the paper outs the recent medical auditor's report on wrongdoing and helter-skelter incompetence at Parkland -- a report the hospital has been fighting to keep secret for obvious reasons.

If somebody had carried this report to Charles Dickens and suggested he use it as the plot-line for a novel, Dickens would have tossed it back and said, "Nah. Too over the top."

Don't read it unless you are within sprinting distance of a toilet. Shit and blood on the floor. Smeared on telephones. Unwashed hands of medical personnel. Trash bins overflowing. Surgeries on the wrong body parts. Fluid sucked out of the wrong body parts. More than 100 instances of giving the wrong meds. Death under bad sedation. Beds empty while patients sleep on the floor in waiting room.

But, wait. This is all stuff the auditors found after Parkland was warned to clean up its act or face a federal government shutdown. And this doesn't only involve Parkland staff. The auditors continue to put blame on prestigious UT Southwestern Medical School, which has teaching oversight of the baby docs who provide much of the care.

This is Parkland and UT Southwestern at their best. This is what they teach these days. It's how somebody honestly believes poor patients should be treated.

A patient advocate interviewed by The News suggests patients should be allowed to read the secret report so they can know what they're up against, but asking somebody writhing in pain on a gurney to read a long technical report may be a bit much. How about some simple signs? Right at the door. All ye who enter here: You are excrement. We despise your claim to humanity. Your death will not touch our hearts.

Same day, today, same newspaper: Another story tells us that Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano, a facility that treats suburban affluent sick people, has agreed to pay the city of Plano a million dollars for the right to advertise its services at municipally owned properties. Think about that. A hospital so rich, so awash in cash that it can afford to toss off a million bucks for advertising.

And then think again. Why does a hospital advertise? Because it makes so much money off every patient through the door. And it wants more.

Look, this is no rant against profit. More power to them, if they make money. But what are the underlying moral and cultural values illuminated by the contrast?

Before you answer, my last dot -- story in The New York Times this morning reporting that rich foreigners moving to New York are putting their kids in public school to shield them from spoiled-brat over-the-top ultra-luxe pampering in New York's top private schools.

One anecdote is from a German couple who visited the cafeteria of a top private school. The mother told The Times: "The kids were able to choose between seven different lunches -- sushi and macrobiotics and whatever. And I said, 'What if I don't want my son to choose from seven different lunches?' And she looked at me like I was an idiot."

I come from a modest middle-class background. For a few years I was a scholarship kid at a school for America's oldest richest families. That was a half century ago. I know one thing. Rich people didn't act like this back in the day. This is new. This is different. This is ugly.

Isn't it interesting? The aristocracy had a certain modesty. The meritocracy has none. If anything, we may be looking at new fascism -- the fascism of merit. The meritocrats believe they got rich on a level playing field. If you didn't, you can eat shit and die.